Understanding is the prerequisite for peace: a call for interfaith harmony
Harmony is the feeling of ease that people experience when there is a togetherness and oneness. It is at the core of the mutual understanding and respect which enables people to bind naturally and establish common ground. It isn’t necessarily agreement about each other’s views but it is a willingness to be open about another’s perspective and if there are differences not just tolerate or comply with them but celebrate the uniqueness of each perspective.
All of our faiths have always taught us to be in harmony with one another. Most of the tenants across different faiths stress on the importance of being willing to understand another even though we may not agree. Understanding is the prerequisite for peace. I remember growing up my mom always stressed on the importance of being harmonious with other people and the society as a whole. She always said “There is a lot to learn from each other and the way people see the world. It only strengthens our faith and inherent beliefs by adding to what already exists within us”. Understanding requires us “To stand under” (quite literally) and receive what the other person is saying. Until the time we understand what the other person is actually saying we cannot possibly agree, disagree and this requires for us to listen, engage and connect even through our differences.
Interfaith harmony for me enables just precisely that. It supports us to celebrate our world views, to pause, reflect and acknowledge each individual’s and our own faith. By being in harmony it is possible for us to highlight the various practices followed by different faith communities and enables us to share with each other what drives us, the work we do, our inspirations, values , our love for peace and everything else that defines us from tenants in our own faith traditions.
Gandhi once said,” We must have the same regard for other faiths as we have for our own. Such respect would not only remove religious rifts but lead to a realization of the fact that religion is a stabilizing force, not a disturbing element. All the scriptures of all religions point only in one direction of goodwill, openness and understanding between person and person and between community and community”.
Bringing people together in dialogue and common action provides a space for them to share, listen and celebrate the existing differences. This goes a long way in supporting and helping build a better world. Being involved in on the ground action for a burning issue or a cause provides an opening in all our hearts which in turn translates into a new understanding of other faiths, cultures, traditions and shifts the way we see the world and understand our own faith. In the presence of a higher purpose we are able to unite much easier and effortlessly. This unity is vital as faith is one of the most powerful forces in the world is and everyone is associated with it in some way or the other. Utilizing the power of our faiths to bring about common good and peace is the fastest and simplest way to serve and heal the world.